April 27, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Seward we go!

Seward is one of my favorite places in Alaska. It's a small town nestled in the Resurrection Bay.  You are surrounded by mountains and water and it's amazingly beautiful (when it's nice out).  I got invited to road trip there (2.5 hour drive from Anchorage) with my friend Kristin and her friend Kathleen.  We are barely 20 minutes out of Anchorage, driving along Turnagain Arm when this is what we see on the cliffs above us:

The water heading towards Seward is the bluest of blues.  It is runoff from glaciers so the color is absolutely amazing.  My camera doesn't quite catch the aqua color of the blue but you get the idea:

Not only is the water beautiful, so is the wildlife.  We were excited to see sheep and just as excited to see this bald eagle perched in the tree.  They are kind of like moose.. no matter how many you see, there is still a sense of awe.

There is something about the bars in Seward. It might be that there are never any girls in there, it might be the different sort of folks you see in there (locals to fisherman to tourists).  There is only one thing wrong with the bars in Seward: you can smoke in them.  You are not allowed to smoke in Anchorage bars and one gets accustomed to clean bar air.. not the case in Seward.  After an hour, my eyes were on FIRE!  What helped that?  Running into two Norwegian guys who were a ton of fun to hang out with (and one was not too shabby to look at either)
We had a great time with these guys and they are heading up to Anchorage to join us for the remainder of their trip (I think they are camping in my yard)  :)
All in all, Seward was a great break to a busy week and I met a great new friend who I hope to visit in Boston one of these days!

April 17, 2010


You can click on the pictures to make them larger!

In a land far, far away....

There is a village called Kotzebue. . .

(Kotzebue in the summertime)

Kotzebue, a town/village of approximately 4000 people is the home of the Inupiat Eskimo people which translates to, "The real people".  
I went there for a mining conference and left there in awe.  So many questions/thoughts went through my head while I was there:
- How do people live like this?
-What do they do for fun?
-Why would someone (not from here) move here?!
-No wonder the suicide rate is so extremely high here.
-If I had to kill a walrus to survive would I be sad?- yes!

It was my first trip to a village-like town.  Kotzebue is considered a village hub which means they have a hospital and airstrip.  They are surrounded by much, much smaller villages.  Kotzebue is large by village standards-  They have an elementary and middle/high school.. a hospital, an "airport", a store, and two restaurants (Chinese) because for some reason, there is a large population of Chinese people there.  You can't really tell the 'good' parts of town from the bad because the houses all look the same.  Kotzebue is considered a "damp" village which means they can transport alcohol in but it can't be distributed or sold within the village.  You can get 18 bottles of liquor a month, two cases of beer, or 15 bottles of wine.. Some say that is far too much alcohol since Alaska Natives are historically known to abuse alcohol.
(The oldest house in Kotzebue)

As I ate lunch with the kids at the school I asked them if they liked living there. Suprisingly they all said Yes!  They said they liked that it was a small town and that they could walk wherever they wanted to go.  They liked being surrounded by the ocean and being able to do whatever they wanted because you didn't dare do something bad because everyone knew everyone and everyone knew everyone else's business.  They did say they sometimes wished they lived in Anchorage so they could eat McDonalds and go to movies.. They were also amazed at my iPhone-- they had never seen one before.  It sure puts things in perspective for a city-dweller like myself!
Front Street in Kotzebue runs parallel to the ocean.  The restaurants are on Front St and you can literally stand at the front door and toss a rock into the ocean (except for when it's winter and sheer ice).  If you look closely you can see little branches sticking out of the snow.  They travel quite a distance to get branches to make a path across the ocean.  This helps hunters and fisherman find their way back to town.  It's amazing to see how far these branch trails lead. It should be noted that they have to travel for branches because Kotzebue has no trees.  At one time they had one, "The Kotzebue Forest" (see below), but someone got drunk and cut it down to use as a Christmas Tree.
(Have a nice day in Inupiaq)

April 13, 2010

Rain, Snow Or Shine--- It's Camping Time!!

It's technically Spring...even though the forecast is calling for snow this week.
We don't care. We are ready to camp!
I recently purchased a sleeping bag that I was told would ensure me a nice cozy sleep in weather 0 degrees and below. Of course having said that, I don't plan to test it to quite that extreme… Thirty degree temperatures will do it I'm sure.
Having said all of this, I will get to my point: Greg and I are doing our inaugural 2010 camping trip this weekend. We will be heading out to the Eagle River Nature Center (www.ernc.org) where we are far enough away that it seems like real camping but close enough to the warm car if need be. Luckily for us, bears are still in hibernation- at least I think they are... note to self: check on that.
Wish us luck because I think we'll need it!
Pictures of our adventure to follow.
*Note: The picture above is not of my tent or anyone's tent that I know.
I ♥ Google

April 11, 2010

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something Old: Zoe Louise
Zoe will be 10 years old this year!  She and I have been together since she was a kitten back in Minneapolis. She has travelled with me state to state, city to city and  house to house.  She is cuddly, loving and sheds more than any animal on this planet.  Her personality mimics that of a woman going through, "the change".. One minute she is fine, cuddling up next to me as I pet her gently, and the next minute, WHAM, she is attacking me like a wolverine!  She thinks it's a game because she will hide under things and then jump out and attack me as I walk by.  It's actually quite amusing.   She refuses to drink out of a pet dish and will drink out of the bathroom sink (this is a recent development) or, as the picture above shows, my glass of water.  I think Zoe thinks she is human-- but I love her to death!

Something New: Currently Un-Named
On April 9, 2010 I purchased this 2009 Subaru Forester.  I had been researching cars for about 6 months and came to the decision to buy a Forester but I didn't want a boring ol' base model.  I had the guy at Subaru keep and eye out for a Forester that fit what I wanted- anything BUT a base model.  So, at 3pm on Friday I got the call that they had just (as in  the day before) got a car in and he was holding it for me.  He assured me that this car, "Was the One for Me!"..  It was.
I left work and headed over and we chit chatted and bs'd for awhile until I couldn't stand it any longer... Let me see the car!  There she was, all pearly white and gleaming- I was a little disappointed by the color because White has never been my favorite car color but ...
She has leather, heated seats.. she has climate control... she has a sunroof that is almost the size of the whole roof... she has heated windshield wipers...she has reclining back seats.. a huge cargo area.. 6-disc CD player.. traction control... and so much more.  I am in Love.. and the old saying that, "Good things come to those who wait".. is quite true.  I could have settled for something months ago when all my friends were pressuring me to buy and I didn't.. so There!

Something Borrowed: My Little Cabin

You sometimes hear that everything happens for a reason and I have become a firm believer in that.  Here is why-
I moved to Alaska in August of 2006 and lived with my brother. I joined a group of Newbies to Alaska and met Julie who lived in an adorable little house in a great part of town.  She told me that her neighbor lived in a cabin (pictured above) next door and was moving out -- this was in 2006-- keep that in mind.
Three years later and three houses later I am living with my boyfriend and all is well (so I thought).  I lose my job in February of 2009 and 4 months later find out he has been cheating on me for the entirety of our relationship.  I needed to get out pronto!  Luckily for me, my parents had just returned to Anchorage and the NEXT day were moving into an apartment. They graciously got a two-bedroom so I could live there. Now, as a 29 year old woman, I did not want or ever think that I would live with my parents again but I was so thankful for them during this time.  Literally two months later, Julie tells me that her neighbor is moving out! I didn't believe her because she had been "Moving Out" for the past 3 years... A week later, she was out.. I called the landlord and it was the funniest thing ever. This is the conversation:
Landlord-  Hello?
Beth- Hi, I am friends with Julie that rents from you and she said the house next door had opened and I'd like to take a look.
Landlord- Ok, come in 10 minutes.
Beth- Ok.
Beth arrives--
Landlord- We are painting it for you so that will be done before you move in.
Beth- Oh ok, sounds good.
Landlord- Here is the lease, sign here.
Beth, a little confused as this woman (who is about 85) does not know her from Adam. She doesn't know her name, if she has a job, or if she is a serial killer even!
Beth signs the lease, a little bit shocked that she is renting the cutest little house with a HUGE yard for the ridiculously cheap rent of $650/month.  I hit the jackpot with this little gem.  Will post interior pictures soon.

Something Blue: Those Eyes ♥
Enough Said ♥♥

April 6, 2010

Spring snow brings me Woe...

Last week we were reaching 50's with spectacular days of sunshine and warmth... Today, not so much!! It is a soft blizzard happening outside my work window that makes me wish I had worn boots to work instead of my mary janes. We are still in the mid 30's and I am ready for Spring to be here now. No more of this white stuff!

Oh, Mother Nature.. what has Alaska done to you to get our hopes up of Spring and then drop a bunch of snow on us?

April 4, 2010

Getting to know Alaska

-Purchase of Alaska: Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million

-Tallest Mountain in North America: Mount McKinley at 20,320 feet

-Alaska is larger than the next four largest states combined

-Alaska contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in The United States

-Alaska is only 50 miles from Russia.

-Kodiak Island is the 2nd largest island in the United States

-Alaska is 586,400 square miles...very big!

-We are 2 times the size of Texas!!

-Alaska has 57 volcanoes

-Alaska is 1,400 miles North to South and 2,700 miles East to West

-Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline...more than the rest of the lower 48 combined (This includes island shores)

-Alaska is the only state to have coastlines on three different seas... Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea

-There are more than three million lakes in Alaska

-Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers which cover almost five percent of the state....More than in the rest of the inhabited world
-Alaska residents receive the PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) annually from royalty money from the oil industry. The PFD has ranged from $500-$1300 dollars.
-Juneau, our Capital city, is only accessible by plane or boat.

Things to Do in Alaska:
Fish, hunt, bike, camp, backpack, sight seeing, rafting, snowmaching, 4-wheeling, skiing, skijoring, snowboarding, photography, canoeing, festivals, gold panning, dog sledding, cruising... and much, much more!